Why We Should NOT be Fracking for Natural Gas
Remarks at the National Press Club
Newsmaker Press Conference
24 May 2011
Moderator, Sustainable Otsego
My name is Adrian Kuzminski. I'm the Moderator of Sustainable Otsego, an
advocacy group in the Cooperstown, NY, area. We have played a key role in the growing grassroots resistance to fracking for natural gas in the Marcellus shale region. As part of this effort, we have brought together a collection of documents, "Frack Facts," which covers most aspects of gas extraction from leases to pollution problems to effects on economics and property values. This collection, periodically updated and expanded, currently has hundreds of items running to over 2000 pages.
This document was originally undertaken at the request of Congressman Michael Arcuri in 2008. Earlier versions of it were submitted to the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and to the EPA during their recent public comment periods on gas drilling. Copies are available here today. My remarks are based on the findings presented in these documents. Our conclusion is that the practice of fracking for natural gas should NOT be allowed to go forward.
Let me go through the major pro-industry arguments one by one, and point out why they fail:
1. "We have an insatiable appetite for energy and need to find replacement resources for oil."
Natural gas is not a replacement resource for oil; it is an extension of oil, with all its problems. It is a polluting fossil fuel apparently as bad if not worse than oil and coal. The methane gas which escapes during the full cycle of production and distribution ends up polluting groundwater locally, and compounding the greenhouse effect globally. A recent Duke university study of drilling in PA and NYS show methane frequently migrating thousands of feet to contaminate drinking water. Methane is a worst greenhouse gas than CO2 by many orders of magnitude. Robert Howarth's recent research at Cornell -- based on data from the state-of-the-art Russian gas system -- shows unacceptable levels of methane emissions from wellheads, compressors, and distribution lines. There is nothing "clean" about natural gas; it's just another fossil fuel.
We should be putting our diminishing investment capital into conservation and sustainable, decentralized, renewable energy sources. Investment in a dead-end technology like fracking starves out the sustainable renewables of the future, leaving us that much worse off. The short-term benefits go mainly to a few leaseholders and the gas companies. Every dime invested in natural gas is a dime in T. Boone Pickens' pocket, and that's a dime denied to desperately needed renewables. We can no longer afford to subsdize an obsolete oil and gas industry which provides energy and profits only at the cost of cannibalizing our most basic resources, both locally and globally.We shouldn't have to choose between water and energy. Shale gas development and subsidies to increase gas use are bridges to nowhere.
2. "We need national energy independence and the Marcellus shale will help provide it."